Is your man irrationally jealous or just territorial?

Your man is most likely to be obsessively jealous if he is abusive, psychotic or has a personality disorder. Here are the signs that your man has an underlying condition that makes him abnormally jealous. PHOTO | FILE

What you need to know:

  • While jealousy is a normal emotion that every human feels when they perceive a risk that they might lose something they have, it becomes abnormal when expressed in excess. There is also the question of whether your partner is being morbidly jealous or whether he is just being territorial.
  • For the morbidly jealous man, the desire to protect is informed by an impulse to respond to his insecurities. An impulse he regrets later. He’s always on the defence, always feels threatened and he does something about it.
  • You irk your jealous guy each time you fight off his absurdity. And one day he will erupt. He will become angry with you. And an angry, jealous man is a dangerous man. He is violent, unreasonable and emotional. If he won’t break one of your bones in the heat of the moment, he will break down your door.

You are bound to make a fool out of the man who loves you. At some point of the relationship you will; it doesn’t matter when, but you will. His foolishness is driven by an uneven mix of care, selfishness, apprehension and uncertainty. Somewhere in there you will also find reasonable doubt, genuine concern, a bruised ego and pain from the past. And right next to these is mindless masculinity, twisted psychology and the maturity of foresight.

Tying it all together is his love. A love which makes him want to protect what’s his – the relationship and you. While jealousy is a normal emotion that every human feels when they perceive a risk that they might lose something they have, it becomes abnormal when expressed in excess. There is also the question of whether your partner is being morbidly jealous or whether he is just being territorial. For the morbidly jealous man, the desire to protect is informed by an impulse to respond to his insecurities. An impulse he regrets later. He’s always on the defence, always feels threatened and he does something about it.

He doesn’t believe that you can handle that flirty colleague who doesn’t know when to put a lid on it, an ex who wants to remain friends, a friend’s brother who thought you looked smashing in that little blue dress you wore to the barbeque last Saturday, your boy back from campus who wants to hang out with you, a waiter who lingers a tad longer at your table … without falling for their affections.

He will want to deal with these threats with a firm hand and it will be nasty. And in many cases, you will make excuses for him in the aftermath of his actions. “Sorry about how Brayo spoke to you at the cocktail,” you will find yourself explaining later, “He was tired from work.” Or “He gets like that sometimes.” Or, “He’s been going through a lot.” After a while, you stop inviting him to events just so you can avoid these embarrassing apologies afterwards, but this only works to worsen his jealousy and the things he does about it.

He’s quick to feed you with absurd logic and a charade of pity tales. “Trust me,” he says when you ask him why he sent a text message to your car dealer who wanted to meet you, “I’ve seen guys like him before. All he wants to do is break us up. He is not happy I am with you.”

You irk your jealous guy each time you fight off his absurdity. And one day he will erupt. He will become angry with you. And an angry, jealous man is a dangerous man. He is violent, unreasonable and emotional. If he won’t break one of your bones in the heat of the moment, he will break down your door. And your plates and your phone. He will call your mother names. Then he will blame you for his outburst. 

G is for gentleman

A territorial man, on the other hand, approaches things like a gentleman. And by doing so, he goads the lady in you. He is secure in himself and in his position as ‘the man’ in the relationship. He stamps his authority quietly. He reinforces your self-confidence in a way that is sexy, subtle and sincere. He understands that you are a catch, and that there are guys who still chase after you. But he believes that you will “handle yourself like a lady”. If he suspects that some other guy has been crossing his territory, he will sift through his thoughts and his reservations before he brings these suspicions to you.

“Listen,” he says when you return, giggling, to catch Game of Thrones with him after you’d bolted to the bedroom to take a 15-minute call from some guy; this is the fourth night in a row he’s called you at that hour, this is the first time your man brings it up, “it’s after 10, it’s late. You’ve got to stop that.”

And guess what? Because he said it in the way he said did – firmly and without frills – you are likely to stop what you both know he’s asking you to.

He won’t get inane and go through your WhatsApp messages, or wait for you outside the bar on the night you said you were going to have one drink with your colleagues, just so he can catch you red-handed in a lie. You, in return, won’t feel the need to lie to cover up. Speaking the truth comes more easily to you.

He accepts that you have a life outside the relationship – one which you had before you met, and one which will continue whether he is in the picture or not. He won’t ask you to “choose sides”.

The territorial guy has moments where his jealousy streak shows but he has the hindsight to catch himself and walk away before he makes a fool of himself. This means that he won’t talk you down, be violent or exhibit emotional fits.

The mistake women make is to confuse a man who is irrationally jealous with one who is just experiencing jealousy because he is territorial. Understandably, it’s a thin line. Listen more keenly then – if you can’t pick it up from the way he acts, pick it up from the way he speaks. 

 

Clues in conversation

When you listen close and read between the lines, conversation will clue you to whether your man is jealous or a territorial. Here’s what he will say to you in different scenarios:

Territorial: Mark is a dodgy chap. Be careful when you’re around him. Jealous: I don’t like how Mark looks at you. What’s going on between you two?

Territorial: I am lucky to have a woman like you. Jealous: You are lucky to be with a man like me.

Territorial: You look beautiful. Jealous: Why does Tony take so much time when he’s fixing your hair?

Territorial: That anger was uncalled for. I didn’t think this through, I overreacted. I’m sorry. Jealous: It’s your fault I became so angry. It’s you, you’re the one who turns me into this kind of guy.

Territorial: Why have you been lying to me? Is something going on with you? Jealous: I knew you’ve been lying to me. You wanted to hurt me.

Territorial: Let’s talk about this later, at home and when we’ve both calmed down. Jealous: Let’s finish this right here, right now. I don’t care if people are watching us.

Territorial: Have fun with your girls tonight. And take care of yourself Jealous: You are always out with your girls. You never spend time with me

Territorial: Let’s stop fighting. You know that I love you, don’t you? Jealous: Oh, so now you are too tired to give me answers. Do you even love me?

 

 

DANGEROUS MEN

Your man is most likely to be obsessively jealous if he is abusive, psychotic or has a personality disorder. Here are the signs that your man has an underlying condition that makes him abnormally jealous and likely to harm you. 

1. The abusive man

At first you may find it sweet how he is all over your business, seemingly showing great interest in what you do, but you’ll soon begin to feel trapped and suffocated. The abusive man shudders at the thought that other men could want you and any signs that you are having fun with other men are met with a lot of accusations and threats. He will accuse you of wanting to betray him with other men and try to make you feel as though you are not good enough for other men, and that only he can love you. He will begin to isolate you by making you feel guilty about your male friends and colleagues. He will get angry if you don’t pick his calls or if you fail to call him back right away. He will be very upset when you come home late and he will want to know where exactly you were, who you were with and what you were doing with them. He will claim that his insecurities are about concern for you when in real sense, he just wants to control you. 

2. The psychotic man

The psychotic lover is even more dangerous because he is very insecure. He will want to accompany you everywhere just so that you don’t get into any mischief when you are away from him. He will want to be the one to plan your social calendar, to be the one to decide which events you attend and which ones you miss. When you are not together, he will make excessive phone calls to know your whereabouts, the people you are with and what you are doing together. 

3. Men with personality disorder

Men with paranoid personality disorder and those with borderline personality disorder (BPD) are most likely to experience irrational jealousy as far as their partners are concerned. Those with BPD have an irrational fear of abandonment, so they are always afraid that you are going to leave them for another. This will the basis of many arguments, especially if for some reason they feel they have cause to be suspicious, even if they don’t have concrete proof to back up their suspicions. They will keep calling you and threaten to leave you before you leave them or threaten to harm themselves if you leave them. Even if you do break up with a partner with BPD, he may continue to stalk you and create scenes. The person with paranoid personality disorder on the other hand, operates on the basis of paranoia, as the name of the condition suggests – his mind works on overdrive, seeing suspicions where there are none, and voicing his concerns.  A narcissist will also experience jealousy because he can’t bear the thought of losing a woman he has under his spell to another as that will wound his ego.

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